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April 5, 2016 by
Jay Medley
“I want to get toned.” You’ll hear this a lot from those who are starting workout plans. It’s a goal that generally means that you want to slim down and see some lean muscles – not adding the bulky, massive muscles of a bodybuilder.

This is a common request among women, but many men are looking for the same results (we all have to fit our calves into our skinny jeans, right?) There are plenty of workouts online that promise to get you lean muscles, but many are short-term plans that you can’t keep in the long-term.

So here are some types of workouts that you can do in the long-term, changing it up to keep getting results and to stay interested.

Resistance Training

Resistance training can mean a lot of things: it’s any exercise where a resistance is placed on a muscle to make it contract and work harder. This includes weight training or working with resistance bands. You don’t have to bench press your own body weight to get results; doing lots of reps with lighter weights works well, too.

You don’t have to be scared of bulking up with weight training, it won’t necessarily make your muscles huge. If you do start to bulk up, take a look at your nutrition and see if you may need to decrease calories or protein.

TRX Suspension Training

TRX is a method of resistance training that uses your body weight as the resistance. Any resistance training will help to build and tone muscles, but TRX suspension training will also help improve your posture and maintain (or get to) a healthy weight. It’s a full-body workout.

TRX engages the core muscles in every move because while you are using the suspension straps, your body needs to balance itself using the core while doing the exercise moves. Not only will you develop those visible lean muscles in your extremities and in your core (like your abdominals,) but you’ll also strengthen those hidden core muscles that will make you more stable and give you better posture.

That great posture will make your lean muscles look even better! TRX can be intense, so it burns calories and makes you sweat, which will help you to lose weight so you can see those muscles you’re building.


Holding poses in yoga puts stress on the muscles, which causes them to adapt and grow. Advanced yoga poses require a lot of strength and endurance to hold, which is why it can take so long to work up to them. These poses also stretch the muscles, making them longer and leaner than they would be from other exercises.

An added benefit to yoga is that is builds lean muscles all over – it’s a full body workout. You’ll be working muscle groups that you didn’t even know you had!

Boot Camps

You’ll notice that cardio isn’t on our list of workouts for building lean muscle. Cardio is great for burning calories, which will help you to lose body fat and make your muscles more visible, but there can be too much of a good thing.

If done too much, or when there are not enough calories to burn, your body can start eating your muscles to give it the energy it needs to complete the cardio. The average person can handle about 45 minutes of cardio, so consider taking a boot camp.

The instructor will take you through a cardio and strength-training workout that will burn calories, but with most boot camps clocking in at about an hour including warm-up and cool-down, you won’t go overboard.

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